Leaking PVC Pipes
Picking the Right Pipe Size
Plastic Water Lines
copyright G.G. Alonzy
I have a slow leak in the joint of a 4" PVC drain pipe in my basement. How do I stop this leak short of cutting the joint apart, buying new fittings and regluing it? I have tried using PVC primer and PVC cement, but they don't seem to work. A friend suggested using an "epoxy putty", which seems to have stopped the leaking for the time being. Would you consider this a permanent repair?
JD from Derby, KS
The reason the PVC cement didn't work is because it is not meant to be used as a sealer. It is designed to "weld" two mating pieces of PVC - for example a pipe and a coupling of some kind. It does not bridge gaps like an adhesive, but instead partially softens and dissolves the pipe, making for a permanent connection between the two parts. Once set - usually within a minute - the joint is beyond permanent!
You put your finger on one "right way" to do this repair... cut the joint apart and replace whatever parts you need to. However, there is another way that plumbers use that can save you some work. Instead of trying to replace the parts with PVC, you can use neoprene couplers. These are rubber sleeves with metal clamps that can firmly connect two sections of pipe without the need for any cementing at all! They can be used not only with plastic pipe but also copper and cast iron pipes, too. They are meant for drain pipes only! Using them requires that you cut the existing pipe apart to allow the placement of the coupler. Once installed, they will give a lifetime of service. One additional tip - if the pipes tend to sag at the coupler, use some plumber's metal hanging tape to add additional support for the pipe.
If you want to "stall" doing the big repair for a while, try this:
Get the joint as dry as possible. Use a heat gun to evaporate as much moisture as you can from the joint. Rough it up with some fine sandpaper and then wipe it with alcohol to clean off any dirt or oils. Go buy a tube of my favorite glue, GOOP. Slather it onto the joint, covering at least 1/4" on either side of the joint with a thick layer, and pushing it into the joint seam as much as possible. Try not to run water through the joint for at least 6 hours, preferable 12 or more. According to the GOOP guys, you will have full strength in 24 hours.
If you do a good prep job, the GOOP will probably stop the leak for months. I can't really consider this a permanent repair, but it is a good stopgap.
Epoxy putty would not be my first choice. Even with good preparation - sanding and cleaning - the repair will probably only last for a short time because the "mechanical" attachment of the epoxy to the surface of the pipe is not extremely strong. Part of the problem is that the epoxy is almost inflexible when fully hardened, while the pipes expand and contract more readily. This varying expansion-contraction inevitably leads to failure of the bond and recurrence of the leak. Think about it. If this was such a great product, why don't the plumbers use it all the time? Because its failure eventually leads to angry customer callbacks - something that no responsible tradesman wants!!
for tools and supplies for your home improvement project Shop at AceHardware.com
A last word. Whichever temporary repair you try, just keep a pan under the drip to cover your stopgapping-self - just in case!
Have a small home repair question for THE NATURAL HANDYMAN? Just click here naturalhandyman.com/aitikia. For more home repair information, visit NH's growing list of original home repair articles and quality links naturalhandyman.com. If this information has been valuable to you, please consider making a small donation to support NH's free service to the home repair community! For more information, please visit our "Friends" page naturalhandyman.com/friends.
The Natural Handyman Site Directory
- Home Repair Articles naturalhandyman.com/iip
- Home Repair Links Library naturalhandyman.com/linkslibrary
- NH's Bookshop naturalhandyman.com/bookshop
- Find a handyman at naturalhandyman.com/network
- Win unique home repair gifts and prizes at naturalhandyman.com/contest. Please read the important copyright and disclaimer information is located at naturalhandyman.com/copyright
Take the Next Step
Also in Home
- How to seal your basement from outside moisture
- Are you ready to buy your first home? Video
- How to clear a clogged drain naturally
- Indoor container gardening
- Hot? Turn on the furnace!
- The essential starting point to lower summer energy bills
- 6 cheap, effective home security solutions
- 5 simple and affordable luxuries for your home
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- Top 10 DIY mistakes made by home 'handymen'
- How spring cleaning can save you money
- 4 secrets to budgeting for a home purchase
- Find the best mortgage rates in your area
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- Mortgage refinance break-even calculator
- How much money can I borrow for a mortgage?
- Who offers the most home insurance discounts?